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And I Think To Myself, What A Wonderful World

In Conversation


Getting up close and personal with the man – and woman – on the street

Here’s a scenario most of you must be familiar with – listening in on peoples’ conversations (ok accidentally) whilst shopping at your local supermarket.  As I was pushing my trolley cart of quality cellulite goodies up and down the aisles at Newtons last week, drugs snippets of chatter from the other shoppers kept wafting into my hearing range.  An English woman who looked to be in her late sixties was berating her husband in angry hushed tones for being distracted by the sight of an attractive young Russian girl dressed in a pair of hot pink short shorts (typical); a bunch of young Indian lads were excitedly debating which of them had the best looking calves (seriously?) and, lastly, at the checkout counter, a local mother of two was complaining to her girlfriend about the marital tensions created by her visiting mother-in-law (“my sorpotel is better than hers but the silly husband can’t admit that in front of Mummy!”).

It then occurred to me that shining the light inwards into the minds of random folks may throw up some interesting revelations, a form of people watching from an internal angle. And let’s be honest; we all relish finding out the gory details re the lives of others.  So, donning my Sigmund Freud hat, I set off for a saunter along the Candolim stretch in search of ‘patients’.

Charles Lambrou had a smiling countenance when I spied him outside Café Coffee Day – a good omen.  Turns out, he’s an author currently residing in Goa and was en route to the beach to “connect with the ocean … I believe watching the beautiful horizon is sort of an analogy for the endless possibilities that exist within us”.  After a line like that, I wasn’t surprised to learn that this forty-something South African national teaches the art of mindfulness.  Why Goa? “It’s an upgrade from living in Bombay, which was an assault on my senses whereas here, it’s a fresh dimension plus the much reduced cost of living definitely helps!”  At this point, I could tell that Charles was itching to get to the sea so I quickly threw my last question at him: ‘what’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you today?’  Quick as a shot came the response. “Being interviewed by you of course”.  And with those parting words, he took off but left me with a very sweet gift – a copy of his book that explains how our body holds the secret to health and well being.  I think it’s going to become my Bible.

After a quick shot of caffeine (yes, there are limits to my holisticness), I returned to my adventure and came across Maisie Skinner, who is in her twenties, English and three months pregnant.  “This is my 23rd visit to Goa in the past twenty years,” she explains, adding that her family comes here to reconnect with local Goans whom they met three decades ago.  She’s working towards getting a Level 2 coaching badge in the UK which will enable her to teach serious football.  “It goes up to level 10 where one is then qualified to coach international teams”.  Tres interesting !  Any quirky incidents to share?  “My scooter almost collided with a taxi this morning and that’s a bit scary considering I’m in my second trimester!”  Now there’s a truly Goan experience.  At this point, the mother-to-be begs off saying “I’m just tired, tired, tired all the time”.  Good luck Maisie.

Next, Holiday Street was around the corner so one decided to get off the beaten crowded track and venture towards the beach.  UK born Analisa Jefferies, with her peaches and cream complexion, was hovering outside the Kerkar Retreat, looking a tad more animated than the rest of the passers-by.  I asked the reason behind her excitement.  “I’m in town for a flying 24 hour-visit from Singapore and have been racking my brains trying to remember the name of the place we used to stay at but had just about given up.  The friend I’m staying with suggested eating at a beach shack down this stretch and eureka! I found it” (Kerkar Retreat).  What’s on the agenda for the remaining few hours in Goa?  “Feasting on garlic chilli prawns and poi bread”.  This comment sets off hunger pangs in my stomach – lunchtime.

Satiated, I sit back and survey the other diners around me to try and find more fodder for my article; Nilima (name changed, you’ll see why in a second) smiles as my eyes rest on her – bingo.  She starts sharing right away: “My German husband filed for divorce after 31 years of marriage stating that I was too fat.  According to the laws there, he’s entitled to 50% of all my assets so I’ve had to go back to work”.   Originally from Tanzania, she is a trained nurse.  She owns a home in Candolim and comes to Goa a few times a year to unwind. For the record, I didn’t find her to be particularly fat.

By now, my brain is suffering from information overload so I decide to call it quits for the day.  Freud was right; the more we learn, the less we understand but, ‘one day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful’.  Here’s wishing everyone good mental health.